What does the question of “severability” mean for patients?
The issue of severability is the most important argument for patients, as it puts very popular provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in jeopardy. If the Supreme Court rules that the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable from ACA, the entire law would be invalidated, including the guaranteed-issue provision and the community-rating provision.
The insurance-market reforms may be some of the most touted pieces by supporters of the ACA. These provision bars insurers from denying coverage due to a pre-existing condition or imposing life-time or annual limits on a person’s health care coverage. The community-rating provision prohibits insurers from charging higher premiums based on a patient’s medical history. These two provisions are very important to people with disabilities or with chronic or expensive health conditions, as these patients were those traditionally found it incredibly difficult — if not impossible — to find affordable health care to cover their treatments.
Other popular provisions would be invalidated if the individual mandate were found unconstitutional and the law were deemed not severable, including some that have gone into effect – allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26 and expanding prescription drug coverage for Medicare beneficiaries, to name just a few.
To read the impact of severability on health care providers, click here.